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Parnassus was anciently held in great veneration. Strabo observes that the whole of the mountain is sacred,6 and that it has caves and other places which are religiously respected. The summit, owing to the obscurity in which it was frequently involved by the clouds which gathered round it, was esteemed particularly holy, and hence Bacchus was supposed there to perform his sacred orgies with his attendant Bacchanalians:
Tlcvxas Aai<J/lf« 7rn<?«
Where waving on the midnight air
The torches livid glare,
Before his Bacchanalian throng.
Amongst the sacred caves which Strabo mentions, the Corycian was held pre-eminent. The Corycian nymphs were the daughters of the river Pleistus.' They were the objects of peculiar veneration.9
2i(3w Sc rojufaf «Ax Kmpvxh wiiga
Wheler supposes that the Corycian cave is just above Castalia; but it is evident, from Pausanias's account,1 that it is situated much higher up the mountain.
The rocky bed of Castalia is composed of immense cliffs, which rise perpendicularly on each side, and blacken with their overhanging gloom the waters of the fountain. The stream when I saw it in September was insignificant in size, but in winter it is swelled to a considerable torrent. Instead of inspiring poetic visions, it now serves as a washing-place for the women of Castri; and the waters in which the virgins of the temple used to lave their long hair," now purifies the garments ofthe degenerate dwellers on Parnassus.
The ministers of the temple bathed in the pure stream of Castalia before they entered upon their daily functions.
« Strab. 1 . 0. p. 604.
"i Eurip. Ion. 1.716. and Aristoph. Nubes, 1. 603. See also Paus. 1. x. c. 32.
« Apol1. Rhod. ii. 1. 713. » ^Eschy1. Eumen. 1. 22. 1 Paus. x. 0 32. * Eurip. Phoeniss. 1.230.
AXX' U $oi(3a AeApoI Offairef,
Bxwde Swat, xx&apous n Jfoo-oi?
Descend, ye ministers of Phoebus'shrine,
Unto Castalia's silver wave;
Your bodies in its limpid waters lave,
r About a quarter of a mile lower down the hill, and near the channel by 'which Castalia falls in its passage to the plain below, amidst a grove of olive
* trees, is situated the monastery of the Madona. It corresponds nearly with 'the site of the Gymnasium, as described by Pausanias. Within, is a small 'oblong stone, adorned at the top with a rude sculpture of leaves and volutes, 'and bearing beneath the inscription
'Neoptolemus,4 the son of Achilles, and great grandson of ^Eacus, was 'killed at Delphi. This inscription may probably allude to that event. 'There are some other remains of antiquity in this monastery, amongst which 'is a pillar, with a rude kind of capital. It is placed with true Turkish taste 'in an inverted position, and made use of to support a roof. A short way 'below the monastery are ancient walls, and farther to the east others of 'considerable extent.
'The river Pleistus' flows near the Gymnasium, down to the plain, and
* passes near the rugged mountain of Cirphis, which rises opposite to the 'town of Delphi.'
'Returning from the monastery, and crossing the stream of Castalia, we 'entered the village of Castri. Above the middle of it, immediately under 'the cliffs, and near a large chasm, is the fountain Cassotis, anciently supposed 'to confer on women the gift of prophecy/ I observed that it did not fall 'from the chasm above, but appeared to issue from the rock below.
'This Pausanias has remarked.' Above the fountain Cassotis was a house
3 Eurip. Ion. 1. 94.
* Eurip. Androm. 1.1119. Strabo, 1. ix. p. 610. Paus. 1. x. c. 24. Pind. Nem. vii. 1. 50. 5 Paus. x. c. 8. 6 Strabo, 1. ix. p. 605. 1 Paus. x. c. 24. • Ibid. 'called Lesche,' in which was the celebrated picture of the ' tale of Troy,' by 'Polygnotus.
'A short distance below this fountain, in an outhouse filled with straw, we 'were shewn the ruins of an ancient wall. The stones that compose it are 'large, and many of them covered with inscriptions, which are a good deal 'mutilated. I copied a part of one of them. It is too imperfect to be worth c transcribing, but the words
AnoAAnNi Tfi nrein,
'which appeared very legible in the fourth line, convinced me that the wall 'formerly made a part of the celebrated temple of the Pythian God.' Journal.
It corresponds accurately with the position assigned by Pausanias for the temple,' who says that it was above the city.
Though the extent of the sacred precinct of Delphi was anciently very large, as may be inferred from the remains of walls still visible to a considerable distance on each side the town, yet the number of inhabitants was small, as appears from several passages in the Greek writers. The population most probably consisted entirely of the ministers and attendants of the different temples.
Strabo says that it was sixteen stadia, about two miles, in circumference.* An attendant of the temple describes all the inhabitants of Delphi as collected at a banquet in a tent,3 so that the number could not be very great.
The large excavations in the rock, which are visible by the road side to a considerable distance to the E. and W. of the town, are no doubt ancient sepulchres. Some of them are about six feet wide and six high. Similar sepulchral caves 1 saw in many towns of Greece and Sicily, as at Athens, under the hill of Museeus, and at Syracuse, in a very curious ancient street near the theatre.
The most ancient sepulchres were caves. Abraham asks the sons of Heth to sell him the cave of Machpelah for a burying place.4
M. Hardouin has collected every thing on the subject of Delphi in his learned Dissertations. See Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscrip. t. iii. p. 137.
» PauB. x. c. 25. « Paus. x. c. 8. 1 Strab. 1 . ix. 'Eurip. Ion. 1 . 1140.
♦ Genesis, xxlli. v. 9. See also Clarke's account of the tombs of Telme6sus, and in the Holy Land, near the sea of Galilee. Travels, vo1. ii.
1. 698. Of bay and laurel.] The first temple at Delphi was made of the branches of the bay tree, brought from Tempe.5
1. 707. 77ie earth's centre.] Strabo ' mentions the fable of Jupiter sending out two eagles, one to the east and the other to the west, in order to determine the centre of the globe. They met, according to tradition, at Delphi, which in consequence received the appellation of Tnt optpxXos.
According to the same author' this central point was shrouded from public view by a covering, and two statues placed upon it to commemorate the fable. Pausanias * says, that a stone was placed on the spot which was supposed to be the earth's centre, and iEschylus' alludes most probably to this stone when he describes Orestes as sitting upon the ojupaXof:
Om $' tw ofJttpaXtp jutv coSg» Otofttisn
I see a man detested by the Gods
Seated upon the central stone; he seems
A suppliant; in his hand, from which the drops
Of gore distil, he waves a new-drawn sword.
Potter translates «r' op<p»X<j, 'beneath the central dome', which does not, in my opinion, convey the meaning of the original.
The r»if ojuf «*o? is an appellation given to Delphi as frequently by the ancient poets,* as the name of the town itself.
1.712. The ruirid stadium] Westward of the ruins of the temple of Apollo, and a little higher up the hill, is the stadium. Its oblong form is still very discernible. Large pieces of stone, which formerly were the seats for the spectators, lie scattered about in every direction. It measures in length about 738 feet, in breadth 66 feet. My measurement corresponds nearly with that made by Censorinus.
s Pausan. 1 . x. c. v. 6 L. ix. p. 60S. Claudian in Mallii Theodori Coiisulat Prolog. 1 . 11.
» Strab. Id. ib. 8 Paus. 1 . x. c. 16. » jEschy1. Eumen. 1. 40.
■ -£schy1. CoSph. 1. 103*. Sept. adv. TlieJb. 1.749. Eurip. Ion. L 5. Orestes, 1. 330, and in many other passages.
II y ajoute (Censorin) un autre stade qu'il appelle Pythique, et de 1000 pieds, ce qui peut s'eritendre du Stade ou se celebroient les jeux en l'honneur d'Apollon sur une mesure de pied inferieure a celle qu'Hercule avoit employee en fixant un terme a la carriere d'Olympie. Si Ton suppose que dans la longueur donnee au Stadium qui etoit a Delphes, on a fait usage du pied naturel, les 1000 pieds se borneront a environ 750, qui font 125 toises.1
1. 718. in pttrple garments] This was the colour used in religious processions, and in supplications.
TlaiSuv, Juvaix«v, xc*i yoAof irgiafivliSuv
And let th' Athenian train,
'O AoeXwK, AQwCUUv IXftJ)f X«flf^It«
Em Toiiti (3w/*oif u%gos cv poiwxiJi.4
The pallid Spartan in his purple vest
1. 720. The fanes of Dian and of Bacchus.] The two peaks of Parnassus were called Cirrha and Nisa. On the former5 was placed a temple of Apollo and Diana, and on the latter one sacred to Bacchus. This circumstance is alluded to both by Euripides' and Sophocles/
1. 721. Apollo's temple from its massive roof
Of burnish1 d gold ] I have read in some ancient author, I think
in Justin, that the roof of Apollo's temple was made of gold, or rather gilt over; but I cannot at present refer to the passage.
* Traits des Mesrores ItinSraires, par M.D'Anville, p. 70. 3 Jischyl. Eumen. 1. 1025.
* Aristoph. Lysist. 1. 113*. > Paus. 1. x. c. 32. • Phoeniss. 1.234. 7 Antig.1. 1126.